Creation of human-animal embryos given the go ahead

17 JAN 2008

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK regulator for IVF treatment and embryo research, has given permission to Kings College London and Newcastle University to carry out research using human-animal cytoplasmic hybrid embryos.

A statement from the HFEA said: The HFEA Licence Committee determined that the two applications satisfied all the requirements of the law and has now offered one-year research licences to the two applicants, subject to a series of detailed conditions in each case."

The creation of cytoplasmic hybrid embryos offers possibilities for the development of technology that could lead to new treatments and ultimately potential cures for diseases such as Parkinsons, Alzheimer's, Cystic Fibrosis and Huntington's.

Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research and Development for the Parkinsons Disease Society, said: "The PDS has been campaigning over the last year for this decision from the HFEA. This type of research offers a significant but as yet not fully explored avenue of hope for the 120,000 people living with Parkinsons in the UK."

However the HFEA's decision has angered pro-life campaign groups.

John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said: "The HFEA decision represents a disastrous setback for human dignity in Britain. The deliberate blurring of the boundaries between humans and other species is wrong and strikes at the heart of what makes us human. It is creating a category of beings regarded as sub-human who can be used as raw material to benefit other members of the human family, effectively creating a new class of slaves."

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